Major cyber attack on Ukrainian government websites

A major cyberattack brought down Ukrainian government websites on Thursday evening and Friday morning. It is a warning to Ukraine to prepare for the worst. The spokesman for the foreign ministry told Reuters that it is still unknown who the perpetrator is, but that it is comparable to previous attacks from Russia.

The attack hit, among others, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet and the Council of Security and Defence. The websites read the following in Ukrainian, Polish and Russian:

“Ukraine! All your personal data has been uploaded to a public network. All data on the computer has been destroyed, it is impossible to recover. All information about you has been made public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future. For Volyn, OUN, UPA, Galitsia, Polesye and for historical lands”. In doing so, it refers to highly nationalist organizations and regions in Ukraine”.

Most sites are now back up and running. Also, no personal data was stolen. Other government websites have been taken offline to prevent the cyberattack from spreading.

Rising tension between Russia and Ukraine

The attack is one of many among the rising tensions between Russia and the former part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine. In December, the United States and the United Kingdom already sent cyberwar experts to the country for this purpose.

Western countries also accuse Russia of stationing tanks, weapons and some 100,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border. NATO states that this is preparation for an invasion. Moscow denies this.

Earlier this week, the US and other NATO members met with Russia to ease tension. However, all three rounds of talks, in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna, proved unsuccessful. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says he sees no reason to resume talks with the West.

Hacker collective members arrested

On the morning of Thursday’s cyberattack, Ukrainian authorities arrested several more people who were alleged to be members of a hacker collective. The suspects allegedly attacked more than 50 companies in the United States and Europe with ransomware. As a result, more than one million dollars in ransom was lost.

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